From the ferocious to the fuzzy, I get all kinds of requests for photos of four-legged friends and their owners. Pet photography is a great way to immortalize the animal who as filled a place in someone’s heart, and it is more poplar than ever. Of course, getting that Pet-Fancy perfect shot is not always an easy endeavor. Believe it or not our pets haven’t quite figured out the whole posing thing, which is why hiring a professional is sometimes the best option. This is especially true if the photography will also involve your family including young children and babies.
Whether you are going it alone or going through Silver Bee Photography, get the most out of your pet photography session by following these 8 basic tips. Fluff up Fluffy and let’s get started!
1. Explore the outdoors
I love natural light for all types of photography and utilize it whenever possible. But with pet photography, there is no better place than outside in the animal’s natural environment. There is something so beautiful about pets taking an afternoon sunbath, the golden rays glistening off their soft fur. But if this isn’t an option, try setting up your session in a room lit by a large window, and avoid flash. A flash burst can cause red-eye and may even frighten your animal.
Whether you decide to shoot outdoors or in, remember to get rid of clutter. Outdoors, this means storing away the lawn furniture, toys, and other debris.
2. The eyes have it
How many times have you stared into your pet’s big loving eyes, wondering what he is thinking? Pets are extremely expressive creatures, and with photography you have the opportunity to capture those expressions permanently. Just make sure to get a few shots focused on your pet’s eyes, which as they saying goes, “are the windows into the soul.”
3. Get on their level
The best way to make your pet feel comfortable and at ease is to go to him, so get on his level and see how he sees the world for a change. To do this you may need to sit on the floor or lie on your belly. No one wants a photo looking down on their pet’s back.
4. Tell a story
Photographers understand the importance of respecting a human subject’s personality. Pets are due the same respect. So tell the photographer all you know and more about their behavior. What sets him apart from other animals? What weird habits does he have? Tell us a story.
Dogs, cats, even snakes have unique attributes and it is the photographer’s job to showcase them. Lazy cats should be photographed yawning or sleeping. Rambunctious puppies should be photographed in action, performing a trick or digging up the neighbor’s flowers. Cat lovers will immediately recognize that hypnotic stare cats get when they stare intently out the window. These are the types of things that should be captured.
To get a furry friend to show off their personality best, I like to photograph them in their favorite spot, whether that be a window sill, front porch, or stack of newspaper.
5. Get up close and personal
Get at least a few shots with your pet’s face framing the photo. Head shots like these are the perfect accompaniment to office desks and lockers. Don’t forget the wallet sizes!
6. Master the element of surprise
Pets are unpredictable in photography sessions. They can move without warning, make noise, and yes, go to the bathroom. To combat this, you will need to master the element of surprise. An easy trick is allowing the animal to do as they want. As soon as your ready, motion for someone to call his name or whistle. The sudden noise will get his attention and allow you a few seconds to capture the animal in a nice, alert posture… before they scamper off again. When captured, these unpredictable movements make the best family portraits!
7. Enjoy yourself
Never rush an animal. Instead, take your time, and enjoy your time with them. Not everything will work with every animal, so try different approaches and take A LOT of pictures. You can worry about what they actually look like later.
8. Don’t forget the treats
Treats are an absolute necessity in pet photography, so prepare a few of your pet’s favorites for the session. This works especially well when photographing children with pets. A great portrait is one of your child and pet looking in the same direction. You can entice the animal to do this by dangling his favorite Scooby-snack in the desired direction. Above all, check and double check that the child is comfortable with the pet and vice versa. If small enough the child can cuddle or hug the animal. The trick is to show the special relationship between the pet and child.